International Disaster Assistance

FY2017 Funding Recommendation:  
$2.8 billion


Funding History


       President's FY2017 Request   

       InterAction's FY2017 Recommendation

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 Key Facts

  • UNHCR (the UN refugee agency) estimates that, as of the end of 2014, the number of forcibly-displaced people was the highest since the post-World War II era, totaling 59.5 million people, including 38.2 million IDPs; and the numbers for 2015, when available, will likely be even higher.

  • A 2013 study found that natural disasters displaced three times as many people as war and violence, with almost 22 million people forced from their homes by floods, hurricanes, and other hazards.

Funding of at least $2.8 billion would allow USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) to provide lifesaving assistance following natural and man-made disasters, including conflicts, earthquakes, floods, and droughts. InterAction recommends no less than $1.9 billion for OFDA’s base budget, and no less than $900 million for the Emergency Food Security Program (EFSP). Managed by the Office of Food for Peace, EFSP provides cash-based emergency food assistance through critical voucher programs, local and regional food purchases, and related cash-based emergency assistance efforts that enable rapid delivery of assistance.

IDA funding is essential for OFDA to respond quickly and effectively to millions of people in need of assistance due to conflict and other complex humanitarian crises in places like Yemen (21.2 million), Syria (12.21 million) Iraq (7.9 million), South Sudan (7.9 million), Sudan (3.2 million) and Central African Republic (2 million). This funding is crucial for the 87 million people worldwide in need of humanitarian aid, which generated the largest humanitarian funding appeal ever requested ($20.1 billion) in December 2015.  EFSP is equally essential to respond to projected cash-based emergency food assistance needs in many humanitarian crises, particularly Syria.   

Internally displaced persons (IDPs) and other communities affected by internal conflict receive far less international support than refugees, despite facing similar challenges. With global humanitarian needs mounting, U.S. assistance to displaced and other conflict-affected persons should not depend on whether they have crossed a national border.

Disasters disproportionately kill and injure the poor – particularly women and children – in developing countries. Economic loss caused by large and small disasters continues to significantly increase.  IDA funds critical disaster risk reduction (DRR) programs to strengthen community resilience and help reduce risk and vulnerability so communities can better anticipate, lessen the impact of, cope with, and recover from disasters.  For example, DRR activities help save lives and protect livelihoods by improving early warning systems and evacuation procedures and minimizing exposure to earthquakes and floods.


In recent fiscal years, Congress has provided Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funds to increase the level of funding for the primary accounts used to respond to international conflicts and disasters: International Disaster Assistance (IDA) and Migration and Refugee Assistance (MRA). OCO was created to house temporary spending related to operations and programs in frontline states. In both FY2015 and FY2016 appropriations legislation, OCO accounted for approximately 70% of IDA and MRA funding.

These funds are critical to allow the U.S. to respond to humanitarian crises. However, InterAction and our members are concerned that locating such a high proportion of spending in a temporary account puts humanitarian funding levels at risk as OCO funds are scheduled to decrease over time. Furthermore, we know that for many of the major humanitarian crises occurring around the world, such as Syria, there is no clear resolution in sight.

The Administration should work with Congress to incrementally move OCO humanitarian funding into the base IDA and MRA budgets. Doing so would reflect the true spending levels the U.S. has committed over the past several fiscal years to humanitarian response, and ensure that a major humanitarian funding shortfall will not arise should OCO funds be eliminated or significantly reduced in future budget years.

Success Story

Integrated Neighborhood Approach Hailed as Model for Disaster Response and Recovery

Project Concern International (PCI), in partnership with Global Communities, completed two years of rebuilding the Port-Au-Prince, Haiti neighborhood of Ravine Pintade, which had been greatly damaged by the 2010 earthquake. With technical input and funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA), Global Communities and PCI supported local residents in designing and rebuilding a healthier, safer, and more nurturing community. 

Teams cleared rubble, rebuilt homes and roads, constructed sanitation infrastructure, and increased access to health care, while redesigning public spaces for better safety, access, and resiliency against future disasters. “The completion of this project marks a new beginning for the people of Ravine Pintade,” noted U.S. Ambassador to Haiti Kenneth H. Merten. “The KATYE project was much more than removing tons of rubble, repairing or building shelters, and providing clean water and other basic infrastructure. Working alongside the people who live in the community, we rebuilt a neighborhood.”

An innovative approach to urban disaster response, KATYE, which means “neighborhood” in the Haitian Creole language, combined emergency assistance with collaborative, in-depth, long-term planning in an effort to not only meet immediate needs, but also to address underlying trends associated with vulnerability and lay a foundation for long-term stability and economic growth. Over the course of the project, the Ravine Pintade area was transformed from an informal neighborhood to a more formal entity, with committees for self-governance linked with municipal authorities, to ensure provision of services and maintenance of infrastructure. 

PCI and its partners worked with the local community to create pragmatic solutions to land tenure problems, improve urban planning, improve primary health care, and mobilize community members to create safer, more nurturing environments for children and youth. Over 170 Ravine Pintade residents redrew their private land boundaries to allow for public spaces and access paths for improved safety and stability. This comprehensive neighborhood approach required complex coordination of residents’ knowledge and needs, while building trust and consensus among all stakeholders.

“As the U.S. government’s long-term commitment to helping the people of Haiti build a better future continues, other neighborhood rehabilitation and reconstruction projects in Port-au-Prince can look to the KATYE project as a model for rebuilding communities on a sounder footing,” noted the USAID summary report.


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